Miss Emily Wiesendanger

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Research interests

My research interests are in fossil mammals, concentrating specifically on how species have responded to changes in climatic and environmental conditions throughout the Quaternary (the last 2.6 million years) and the implications this has for modern mammals. This has involved the application and development of various palaeontological and palaeoecological techniques to investigate past changes in biogeography, morphology and diets. Although my recent work has focussed on large mammals, in particular the cold adapted deer species reindeer (Rangifer tarandus, Linnaeas, 1758), I also have experience working with British small mammals.


PhD research

My PhD research investigated the palaeobiogeography (migrations and seasonality) and palaeodiet of Late Pleistocene (c. 82,000-11,700 years BP) reindeer in Britain and north west Europe, to enable the impacts of climatic, environmental and anthropogenic changes on reindeer ecology to be more precisely understood. This is particularly important given concerns over the recent global declines in both the body masses and population sizes of reindeer. As reindeer undertake bi-annual migrations, the fluctuating levels of sexual and demographic segregation expressed within modern herds during different seasonal aggregations throughout the year, serve as an analogue for reconstructing the past seasonality of site occupations and migrational pathways. Seasonality was therefore identified using two lines of evidence, age at death and season of death.

The research has prioritised the selection and development of non-destructive techniques for the ageing and sexing of dental, postcranial and antler remains with, in some cases, monthly precision. The diet of fossil reindeer was reconstructed using dental microwear analysis, while strontium isotope analysis was also conducted on dentition in a pilot study, to investigate the differing scales of mobility at sites where multiple seasons of occupation were identified. A modern training set was compiled using skeletal and dental material from recent and historical specimens, to provide insight into more recent variations in body masses and diets, and the continuous impacts of climatic and anthropogenic changes on this ecologically vulnerable species.

The research was funded by the London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.


MSc research

Dissertation title: An Assessment of Mortality Profiles and Seasonality within Late Pleistocene Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus, Linnaeus, 1758) Assemblages.

Educational background

2016-2020 PhD Geography, Royal Holloway University of London

2014-2015 MSc Quaternary Science, Royal Holloway University of London

2011-2014 BSc Geography, Royal Holloway University of London

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